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Montana Attorney General actively opposing Internet sales tax bill

Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox said today that his office has led the formation of a coalition of state attorneys general to oppose a bill before Congress that would force businesses to collect sales taxes on online transactions.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would force online retailers to collect appropriate sales taxes from customers. [Check here to read my earlier post about it.](

At a press conference Wednesday, flanked by a dozen Montana small business owners, Fox said he has teamed up with attorneys general in Alaska and Oregon, two states that, like Montana, do not have sales taxes.

“Montanans have rejected a sales tax several times, and they certainly don’t want to be forced to collect the sales taxes of 9,600 cities, counties and states,” [Fox said in a written statement](

Opponents of the bill argue that forcing states that have rejected a sales tax to collect that tax for other states would “hamstring” businesses and force them into being tax collectors for distant states, counties and cities.

“This job-killing bill essentially establishes taxation without representation, penalizes our Main Street businesses, and creates a disincentive for our entrepreneurs to expand into new markets outside of Montana,” Fox said.

The Senate version of the bill, introduced by Wyoming Republican Michael Enzi, passed on May 6 by a vote of 69-27. [The bill is currently before the House](, where it was referred to committee on Feb. 14 — where Montana Rep. Steve Daines opposes it. In a statement Wednesday, Daines praised Fox for his action against the legislation.

“As a vocal opponent to the internet tax, I applaud Attorney General Fox’s efforts to bring to light the constitutional overreach of this proposal and the harms that it would bring to Montana’s small businesses,” Daines said. “This bill would fundamentally change how online purchases are taxed and impose new costs and regulatory burdens that would severely undermine many small businesses in our state. I strongly support our Attorney General’s investigation of this proposal and remain committed to fighting against the internet tax.”

The Montana Chamber of Commerce also expressed its support of Fox.

“Our members would get no benefit from being the tax collector for nearly 10,000 taxing jurisdictions,” chamber President Webb Brown said. “There’s nothing fair about the Marketplace Fairness Act.”

President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.